The biggest problem with training, and what you can do about it

We've all been on a training course of some form or another. It might be something compliance based - like health and safety - or something that really impacts on how we perform in our role. The problem, however, is that it often isn't built around the learner.

The reason why is clear: training and education has traditionally been a process of passing knowledge from one person to another or to several others. Consider the typical set-up of a classroom: the teacher stands and speaks, authoritatively, the children sit and listen as subjects. The teacher is focused on passing on the knowledge, not on addressing its meaning and application to the learner. 

It is well established, though, that people who discover their own learning are better for it. Carl Rogers, one of the founding thinkers of 'student-centred learning', stated that "the only learning which significantly influences behaviour is self discovered". If you're a tutor a small proportion of any classroom will be able to take in what you say and remember it. A much larger proportion will keep it with them if they have discovered it themselves.

That's why inductive learning, otherwise known as guided discovery, is the big fashion in modern teaching and training. With language, tutors often now provide learners with an example of a phrase or sentence and facilitate learners to work out the rules for themselves. Even in football, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is a well known practitioner of guided discovery, coaching his players to be able to make decisions for themselves on the pitch based on an overall model of play. 

So, when you're building your own training programmes, think about how you can aid learners to discover facts and patterns of behaviour for themselves. For example, you can give them real world scenarios, and ask them how they would react. Rather than explain the Social Model of Disability to them, get them to empathise and see things from the perspective of those for whom they care. If you are able to observe them working afterwards, talk to them at intervals and ask them how they think they could improve based on the training. It's only little details, but they can add up to make a big difference to changing behaviours for the long-term. 

 

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